Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Are We Ready for the Civic Election? 我们对本次市选举准备好了吗?

Abstract: Regina has seen in the last 4 years changes like a larger and a more diversified population, a slower growth rate and more infrastructure investment, as well a process of privatization and commercialization. The city’s vision is to become Canada's most vibrant, inclusive, attractive, sustainable community, where people live in harmony and thrive in opportunity. To embrace this vision, we need a government which is more amicable to the general public, more transparent and democratic in its decision-making, more just and fair in its process and procedures. The civic election can be as important as the provincial one, and counsellor candidates without party backgrounds may be a good thing for the city[i].

摘要:里贾纳在过去4年经历了人口的增长和多样化,增长速度减慢和基础设施投资的增加,以及私有化和商业化的过程。 该城市的远景规划是成为加拿大最具活力、最有包容性和吸引力和可持续发展的社区,人们生活和谐,城市在机会中繁荣兴旺。 为了拥抱这个远景,我们需要一个对公众更加友好、决策更加透明和民主、行政过程更为公正和公平的政府。 市政府的选举可以和省级选举一样重要,而没有政党背景的议员候选人可能是本城市的好事。

I.             Goals and Values

Regina’s vision[ii] is to become Canada's most vibrant, inclusive, attractive, sustainable community, where people live in harmony and thrive in opportunity. By being sustainable, people forge a balance between the economic, social, environmental and cultural dimensions of their decisions by serving as stewards of the resources we share and by demonstrating leadership. As to opportunity, the entrepreneurial spirit in research, innovation and excellence should be encouraged. The city’s mission is to aspire to be the best run municipality in Canada providing services that enhance our quality of life, and to serve our community, support the Vision of Council and live our Values. The values emphasize behavior in an appropriate and consistent manner, while committed to customer service and contemporary knowledge[iii].

II.          Changes and Concerns

Regina has seen a lot of changes in the last 4 years, some of which are:
l  A rapid increase in population. As of July 1, 2015, Regina's census metropolitan area (CMA) population was estimated at 241,422, which is an increase of 1.87 per cent or 4,427 people from 2014[iv]. Saskatchewan's two biggest cities continue to grow faster than other urban areas across Canada, according to Statistics Canada.
l  A more diversified population. According to the census of 2011, within the whole population of Regina, there are 9.5% Aboriginals and 10.6% of visible minorities[v], which have both increased significantly, especially the Aboriginal people.
l  More infrastructure investment including the new stadium, wastewater treatment plant and the bypass
l  Liquor store privatization and the tentative sale of SaskTel
l  Some service cutdown from the provincial government like no more funding for land to build schools, no more IB courses after Grade 10, etc.
l  Under the present circumstance, Regina has seen 2130 people newly on EI this August, 80 more than in July, and 380 than in last August, while in Saskatoon there is a reduction of 680 people in August than in July[vi].

Some of the comments posted[vii] include:

With the huge future financial responsibility to the taxpayers of Regina due to the present City of Regina Employees Defined Benefits Pension Plan, why has council not instituted a Defined Contribution Pension Plan for all new employees (e.g. anyone starting with the city after December 1st, 2016)? This would be in line with the plan the provincial government put into place in the late 1970's.

What changes, if any, would you implement to make some of the major decisions being made by City of Regina more transparent and more open to public consultation and debate? No referendum was allowed for the new stadium and just recently the land transfer to the U of R was done in a very underhanded way – finance committee voted to approve the land transfer (how many people follow the agenda for the finance committee) – should have been advertised to the citizens of Regina to allow them an opportunity to voice their concerns – once finance committee voted in favor the recommendation was made to council to approve – obviously the people in favor of the land transfer were made aware of its presence on the council agenda so they could make presentations and be in attendance – not all councilors were in attendance at the meeting and then 3 of them excused themselves from the vote because of conflict of interest leaving about 5 or 6 people to make such a major decision that will impact the future of Wascana Park – an unacceptable way to conduct business – if you are elected mayor how will you work to ensure these types of decisions will not be made behind closed doors in future and allow for MEANINGFUL public input?

More than half of the residents in Regina are renters, and they seldom go to stadiums to watch football games. Is it fair to pass the new stadium’s building cost to the home owners in Regina? Can we use municipal bonds, BOT or any other way to finance the project instead of taxing the owners?

III. Policy Alternatives to Tackle the Problems

We have seen a surge of property taxes and recycling fees. First, we advocate being sustainable, yet the policies we carry out may either drive new migrants out or make the old people leave; secondly, is it possible to issue municipal bonds or resort to BOT for financing big projects like the new stadium or the wastewater treatment plant.

As for the transfer of land to UofR, is there a more democratic way to make the changes other than having a committee to approve the change? Should we still lease the land instead of selling it?

As for the retirement plan, is it possible to administer a new retirement policy for new employees? Is it more feasible to use part-time employees or contractors for some projects while adhering to the quality standards?

For privatization, the rule of thumb should be to keep the public good public. For semi-public goods, we can use a combination of ways to manage the business so as to both protect the interest of the general public and to make the business more viable.

IV. What Kind of Mayor We Need

A mayor we need is one with far foresight, one with great leadership skills and one who can coordinate with his co-workers to achieve the best well-being of Regina’s citizens.

According to their declarations, the author has made the following chart to outline their platforms:

Jobs & Growth
Green Society
Culturalism & Human Rights
Affordable Housing
Public Transit
Meet Regu-
larly with the Public
Michael Fougere


Tony Fiacco



Jim Elliott


Wayne Ast



Evangeline Godron


Here we can see some candidates have addressed more areas than others. While we may not know if they will walk their talk, we at least know who is advocating what. This is important especially when we don’t know much about the candidates. On the other hand, there is a saying that the wealthier the people, the stronger the government. Therefore, the most important is to conduct a policy to make Regina’s citizens rich, both materially and spiritually.

V. Conclusion

A government which is more amicable to the general public, more transparent and democratic in its decision-making, more just and fair in its process and procedures will be the best choice. While we need to balance growth and equity, we need to know public goods should not be taken for private goods, and affordable housing is not an option but a necessity for low-income people. A good society relies as well on the integrative positive contribution of social organizations and businesses, whether big or small. 

[i] Ashley Martin: Don't expect Regina's voter turnout to skyrocket, says U of R Prof, http://leaderpost.com/news/local-news/dont-expect-reginas-voter-turnout-to-skyrocket-says-u-of-r-prof, Leader Post, Oct24, 2016.
[ii] City Administration: Discover Regina’s Vision, http://www.regina.ca/residents/budget/, accessed on Oct 25, 2016.
[iv] City of Regina: Regina’s Population Continues to Grow, http://www.regina.ca/press/news-and-announcements/reginas-population-continues-to-increase/, February 19, 2016.
[v] Evan Radford: Minorities Are on the Ballot in Regina’s Municipal Election, http://www.prairiedogmag.com/2016-10-13/more-diversity/, Prairie Dog, Oct 13, 2016.
[vi] Statistics Canada: 2130 people in Regina went on EI this August in Regina, Chinese Network in Regina, Oct 22, 2016.
[vii] Aimee Sudom: Regina: Your Voice, Your Concerns, https://reginavotes.ca/2016/10/20/your-voice-your-concerns/#comments, Oct 25, 2016.

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